I have been a safety professional for over 20 years and I love talking about the back brace argument. Why? Because after 20 years, I’m still on the fence. Are back braces really effective for lower back support?

This is a controversial subject and with good reason.

What is the Argument?

  • Do back braces work?
  • Should you require the use of back braces for lower back support?
  • Do back braces work?
  • Should you require the use of back braces?
  • Should you pay for them if they are requested?
  • Should you allow your employees to wear their own back brace?

Pros:

  • People believe they provide added lower back support.
  • They remind you to lift correctly.

Cons:

  • They aren’t worn correctly.
  • Reduce blood flow to the back muscles increasing susceptibility to injury.
  • Employees think they are invincible and lift more than they are able to.
  • Mask injury through compression.

Now, my college degree was a scientific one so I love quality research and don’t accept research on it’s face value. The problem? There is no conclusive data in either direction that back injuries are reduced by the use of a back brace.

So what does that mean for your workplace? Ideally it means that if you are seeing data within your facility that back braces are helping, then you should use them. On the flip side, if you are noticing an increase in injuries, it might be time to let them go.

Whatever you do, make sure to educate and reeducate your employees about the proper use of a back brace. In order to avoid weakening the back muscles, the brace should only be cinched when the employee is actually lifting. Also, the brace should be situated on the lower back and not down on the hips.

Check out the podcast to hear more about the pros and cons of using back braces. Bonus: You’ll also learn what the back brace argument has to do with ankle research!

Take Action

Consider how you currently use (or don’t use) back braces in your facility. Are you tracking each person that’s wearing one? If not, will you implement an initiative to track back brace use and it’s effectiveness in preventing injury?

NOW IT’S YOUR TURN

I would love to hear your take on this subject. Do you require back braces? Do you pay for them? Continue this conversation by leaving a comment below.

Also – have you shared the Ask Safety Geek podcast with your Safety Friends? If not, there’s no better time than right now.

Highlights From This Episode:

  • Proper use of a back brace.
  • Policy change requires caution.
  • Boots vs. tennis shoes.

Links Mentioned:

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Hi, I’m Brye (rhymes with sky)!  I am a self-proclaimed safety geek with two decades of general industry safety experience.  Specializing in bringing safety programs to a world-class level and building a safety culture.  I train and coach safety managers, just like you, on how to effectively manage workplace safety in the real world.   I would love to help you too.

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